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Some Interesting Points from the Black Agenda Report on the Bailout

Posted by libhom Tuesday, October 07, 2008

In an October 1 posting (Bailout Lesson: Capital Crisis Will Wreck Both Parties), the Black Agenda Report criticized Obama and other politicians that pushed the bailout through. I agree with most of those criticisms, but I want to pull out some passages about the bailout and the democratic (or not so democratic) process that could get lost in an election year.

Never has Republican-Democratic co-subservience to finance capital been on such naked display. But then, "We the People" have never before been witness to the terminal unraveling of late-stage global finance capital. (See BAR, "Death Rattles of a Criminal Class," September 24.) When the New York Times features no less than three articles declaring the nation's investment bankers ready for burial, as did last Sunday's paper, it is time for the Democrats, especially, to find another paymaster.

Democrats have traditionally gotten a lot of campaign money from investment bankers, especially the ones at Goldman Sachs. We are starting to see a shift in financing sources for Democrats from larger to smaller donors. Hopefully, a beneficial consequence of Wall St.'s troubles will be an acceleration in that shift.
At the local level the Democrats have long been the party of "developers" - the money bags who shape urban policy to fit the needs of corporations. These gentrifiers are the "Renaissance Men" that insist Black politicians earn their campaign and graft payments by helping to expel their own constituents from the cities, so as to make them more congenial to business. Betrayal starts at home.

Those developers usually demand government subsidies as well, choking out infrastructure investments and government services.

The views of members of the Congressional Black Caucus who opposed the bailout were summarized as follows:
Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott summed up the "No" position: "There's no point in spending all this money on worthless assets" such as toxic mortgages. Detroit's Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick said of the Obama-McCain-Bush-Paulson plan, "This helps the banks in their book of mortgages. It doesn't help the little person who needs it."

An irony here is that helping the non rich pay their mortgages would make the mortgage paper more valuable. Everyone would win. But, only the rich are allowed to win these days. Everyone else must be screwed over.

More gems:
The rest of us must fashion new institutions to perform the societal tasks that were purportedly the domain of the now-extinct investment bankers: to gather large amounts of capital for projects of social value - for example, a Marshall-type Plan for the cities, a nationwide infrastructure makeover, and fulfillment of the 70-year old federal commitment to provide truly affordable housing for everyone. And of course, jobs, jobs, jobs.
The demise of finance capital's premiere institutions, and the brutal arrogance with which their servants moved to strip the commonweal of every squeezable drop of cash, has alerted vast sectors of the citizenry to the reality of capitalism-in-crisis in ways that no amount of Left agitation could have accomplished.

Technical public "ownership" of previously "private" institutions has been thrust upon us by the capitalists, themselves. But this is merely an opening for the great debates and struggles that must follow. Power does not devolve to "the people" by simple virtue of majority shares in failing institutions or even outright nationalization. And "the people" have no need of institutions that serve no purpose but as creatures of capital.

The author also mentions the Green Party candidates.
When catastrophe hits, radicals must be ready. Recent events have proven Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente to be amazingly prescient in their belief that the Green Party can be - I emphasize can be - a vehicle for presenting and popularizing a truly transformational program for social change. (See McKinney "The Financial Crisis: Seize the Time!" BAR September 24.) McKinney and Clemente always intended that the Green Party become a nexus for the roiling social currents set in motion by the inexorable decomposition of ruling class institutions. The Democratic and Republican Parties, creatures of capital, are decomposing in full view, as witnessed by the events of this week. Too fragile to weather real political storms, they will not survive the larger, unfolding crisis of capital as twin hegemons. As the crisis deepens, the parties will crack - at a pace dictated by the increasing frequency of convulsions.

I remember how influential the Socialists were in the 30s, without winning very many elections either. If the Greens' impact is limited to pressuring the Democrats to work on behalf of the middle class and the poor from time to time, that alone would be an achievement deserving of considerable respect.

I would suggest that you read Glen Ford's entire posting. The excerpts are presented here because taking them as far out of the context of the election would seem to be a way to expose people to his ideas without the immediate "go team" reaction that people get when discussing candidates' policies so close that first Tuesday in November.



  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. Amazing post. Great offer of insight and analysis so needed in todays current.

    I would caution that the Hidden Hand are manipulating events and have planned their own 'liberal' aganda. We must be aware that the Hidden Hand want to offer us up their own likeness of JOE HILL and the IWW. We must not allow ourselves to be fooled as they fooled the conservatives with the neocon offer. We must not allow them to fool us with an offer of neoliberalism.

  3. Christopher Says:
  4. Good job, GLH.

    The bailout was a waste of money designed to help Bush's friends on Wall Street and not homeowners on Main Street.

    I have read a number people who are so freaked out by the propaganda that they can't sleep, stay up until 2:00AM watching for the opening of the Asian markets and are convinced the bailout will stop the foreclosures sweeping the country.

    Nothing is further from reality.



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